The Choice to Trust

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. (Daniel 6:23; NIV)

I was thinking today about trust, about what it means to trust someone. At its core, trust means being willing to be vulnerable to being hurt. It means actively putting something of great importance in someone else's hands, without the means to control the outcome. Understanding this, it is easy to see why it is hard to trust people, and also, why it is hard to trust God.

I do not like being vulnerable, because I have been hurt. Many times. So I protect myself, and one of the ways I do that is not to trust. Instead, I try to control situations so that the outcome is secure, and I am not hurt. That usually ends in failure, because there are things in life that are out of our control which require us to trust. There are needs we all have that cannot be met by ourselves, in isolation.

Daniel is one of those figures from the Old Testament that seems super-human. His faith in God was apparently without limit. He was put into impossible situations, and he was carried through them by God in a way that brought great glory to his love and power. If Daniel had not trusted God but tried to manage situations by his own abilities, his life would have ended, and the story of God's incredible faithfulness in his life would have never been told.

Trust is not about feeling secure. It is not about having peace, or confidence. It is about vulnerability. It is an active step of faith. When I trust someone, I do not always know for sure if they will come through for me. They might let me down. But one thing I know -- the relationship will never go anywhere unless I take that step. If I put my life in someone's hands, and they prove faithful, I have become closer to them than through any other way. I want to be close to the people in my life -- to my friends, my children, the people I love. This means I have to set aside my fears and expose my hopes and dreams to them. In the worst case, I am hurt. In the best case, I experience their love and faithfulness. It is a step I choose to take.

The same goes for trusting God. I am at times afraid to put things into his hands, anxious that he may not be there for me, or that his will for me might be something I cannot bear. The temptation to take control of my own life is at times overwhelming. But I want to know him, and I want to experience his love and power in my life. So I choose to trust him. There is no other way to get that result. In the final equation, through all my pain and loss, I can see clearly that he has never let me down.

The story of Daniel is not a Sunday school tale for children but a model for adults who face the disappointments of life. It is not only the story of a man's faith but also of our God's transforming faithfulness. We need to follow Daniel's steps, to know God as he did. It's about making choices every day, when we face the temptation to do it on our own. Trust is a habit that we practice with our spouse, our closest friends, the people we love, to bond us to them, no matter how fearful we are that they will let us down. We cannot get there any other way.

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